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One of Rosenman's loveliest scores deserves its "Special Collection" billing
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Studio Canal; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
Martin Ritt's film Cross Creek, adapted from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's memoir, is a charming little piece about a woman who moves into a small community and finds new meaning to her life. Ritt made some good films in his time, and worked with some fine composers (Alex North, John Williams, Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, David Shire and Franz Waxman amongst them) and for his 23rd film he returned to the man who had scored his first (Edge of the City), Leonard Rosenman. I had to rub my eyes in disbelief when I read in the liner notes that Cross Creek in 1983 provided Rosenman with his first ever Best Original Score nomination at the Academy Awards, such was his contribution to film music over the three decades prior to that, but it's true - and the nomination was very well-deserved.
Those familiar with some of Rosenman's work probably know him best as composer of some of the most brutal and challenging film music that anyone's ever written, and that reputation is not undeserved, but Cross Creek is right at the other end of the scale - pastoral, light, charming. It's still unmistakably Rosenman (there have been few more distinctive film composers) and speaking as someone whose exposure to the composer has largely been through those more challenging works, a great opportunity to sample his softer side. There are a few solid themes which anchor the score, but the sweet, lovely main theme (which opens the album) is surely the pick - such a lovely piece.
"Work Montage" is classic Rosenman, busy and frenetic but oh-so-charming, sounding almost like it might be one of those "wide open spaces" cues heard in the classic western scores. The other montage - the "Orange Crop Montage" - is just as lovely. Darker are the two pieces called "Agitato" (one used in the film, one not) with tense, edgy brass work so typical of the composer, but impressively-crafted so as to remain in keeping with the rest of the score. It's a fine score, Cross Creek, a rarity in that even though it's still quite complex (one would expect nothing else from Leonard Rosenman) it has an emotional directness and bucolic charm that is difficult to resist. Such are the mechanics of the limited edition game at the moment, Intrada's 1,500-unit edition is still available at the time of writing but a load of rubbish like Delta Force ("Special Collection"? - come on) can sell out within a couple of hours - do yourself a favour, take a chance on this one if you have a little spare cash, it's a real treat.